Effective December 2023, we will phase out the budget billing plan that has been available to our customers. Budget billing will no longer be offered as an option for bill payments. Notifications will be mailed to customers one week prior to their December billing.
The good news is that this is the perfect time of year to phase out budget billing because many customers have an available balance in their account that will automatically be applied to toward their bill during upcoming the higher-usage winter months.
Rather than offering budget billing, we are encouraging customers toward a self-budgeting model. This gives the customer more control over their monthly payments through the use of online banking tools that are now available, along with self-budgeting strategies to manage their personal finances. We think personal banking and self-budgeting is a better fit for our customers to manage monthly utility payments. Customers have the option of paying utility bills with credit, cash, debit or check.
Customers who have participated in budget billing may have some available funds remaining in their budget billing account. If there are funds remaining, we will leave those funds available on customer accounts to be used toward future monthly payments. If customers have a remaining balance, their December utility bill will reflect the amount remaining in budget billing that has been applied to the customer account.
There is nothing that customers need to do for this change to occur. Customers should review their bill and the below Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to better understand their budget balance settlement in their account.
We hope the below information will help answer your questions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are you making this change?
Since offering budget billing as a service in the 1990s, there have been many technological advancements in banking and online services that are now available to our customers. Additionally, in recent years, we have talked with a significant number of customers who don’t understand budget billing and how their usage correlates with their bill resulting in their cancelation of budget billing. Only a small percentage of our customers still use this feature. Therefore, we feel that budget billing has become outdated and no longer serves its original purpose to our customers. The internal administration of budget billing is extensive for such a small percentage of our customer base so maintaining this feature can no longer be justified as a business operating expense.
Can I opt-out of this change and remain on budget billing?
No. Budget billing will no longer be offered as a service. Any funds that you have available will be applied toward your current bill and will be used to make payments on future bills until the funds have been used.
What other options do I have available for budgeting?
We are encouraging customers toward a self-budgeting environment where they can use personal banking, savings accounts, personal credit cards and online banking apps to budget and save toward higher-usage months. Additionally, customers can calculate their own budget billing amount and continue to pay additional funds toward their bill to prepare for higher-usage months. Simply take the last 12 months of bills and divide the total amount due by 12 to determine a monthly amount to pay. Any overage of payment will remain on the account as a credit until it is needed in the winter to pay higher usage bills.
What if I can’t pay my future bills based on higher usage?
Start planning now for how you will manage those higher-usage months by adding funds into a savings account or even by paying more toward your utility bill each month, especially during the summer months, to have an excess of funds on your account to help pay for higher winter bills. Please note: If you are an AutoPay customer and want to pay additional funds toward your account, you will need to make your payment thorough your online portal. AutoPay will not draft if you have a credit balance on your account.
Will my services be disconnected if I can’t make my future utility payment?
Yes. Like any other utility bill, it is expected that utility service bills are paid timely. This is why it is important for you to start budgeting year-round. If you are having trouble paying your bill on time, you may call our customer service department to make a short-term arrangement on paying your bill in full. However, if late bills become a habit, we will have to turn off services until the utility bill, plus any additional reconnection fees, are paid. We do not like to turn off services for our customers, so please make sure you are viewing and paying your bill timely each month. If you would like to pay online or set up AutoPay, you can do that by visiting Trussville.com / Pay my bill.
How will I know that funds paid into budget billing were applied to my account?
On your next bill, which should arrive within a week or two of receiving your notice, you will see that the funds available in your budget billing have been applied to your account under the Account Detail Summary section of the bill. The amount applied to your account will be listed as BUDGET SETTLEMENT on your bill. If your total bill shows a negative amount due, this means you had an excess of funds in your budget billing account and you do not owe us a payment at this time. These funds will remain in your account and will automatically be applied to your gas/water bill unto all of those funds are used.
For a handful of customers who were behind on their bill payments, the BUDGET SETTLEMENT will not appear on their bill. Any funds left in their budget billing account were simply applied to their current bill and that adjustment can be seen in the Account Detail Summary section of the bill.